Portland fire commissioner bans all law enforcement agencies from using fire stations as staging area

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PORTLAND, OR – The Portland Fire and Rescue Commissioner, Jo Ann Hardesty, has banned all law enforcement agencies- federal or local- from using any of their 31 stations to prepare for tactical operations. 

This comes after Hardesty demanded that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler give her command of the city’s police force.

Hardesty declared in a letter to the mayor:

“Mayor Wheeler, if you can’t control the police, give me the Portland Police Bureau. You are putting our community in danger. You are putting my staff in danger. We need you to be better.”

The mayor rejected her request and instead will continue to retain command of the Portland Police Bureau.

Wheeler said in a statement on Monday:

“I will continue to serve as police commissioner through this time of transformation. And I will continue to work with elected leaders from the county and the state to ensure that we are examining the criminal justice system as a whole.”

Portland Fire and Rescue announced at 7:30 pm on July 20 that the city’s police force is no longer welcome at any of its stations, Willamette Week reported.

The fire department said in a statement:

“Recently, a story has been circulated that federally contracted law enforcement agents have been using Portland Fire & Rescue stations as staging areas for operations against demonstrators. PF&R would like to make it very clear that these federal agents were not, and will not ever be, allowed to use fire stations for their tactical operations.

“To ensure that there is no confusion in regards to our role in providing safety to the residents of the city of Portland, Fire Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has directed that no PF&R station will be used by law enforcement of any kind, to include Portland police, for any tactical operations until further notice.”

The fire department said that the Portland Police have historically been permitted to stage their Rapid Response Team personnel at fire stations for pending tactical operations. 

The Portland Fire and Rescue Commissioner reiterated:

“This will no longer be allowed.”

The Portland Police issued a statement about the policy change shortly after the announcement.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in the statement:

“The Portland Police will continue to proudly serve with the brave men and women of Portland Fire & Rescue. We work together every day, placing our lives in each other’s hands to serve the community and will continue to do so.”

Ms. Hardesty currently oversees three bureaus: Portland Fire & Rescue, the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management and the Bureau of Emergency Communications.

During her Straight Talk interview with KGW’s Laural Porter, Hardesty said:

“I never wanted the police bureau. But, I believe there’s some logic in having all the first responder bureaus under one commissioner. And I would take it, because we are doing this transformation if the mayor offered it.”

The Portland Police Bureau has been the topic of criticism over their use of tear gas or other means of force to disperse “protesters” and rioters.  The city’s response gained national attention when the federal government sent in officers to help quell the violence.

Mayor Wheeler on Monday again said that he wants federal officers to leave Portland, and joined mayors from other cities across the country, including Seattle and Atlanta, in denouncing the federal administration’s deployment of forces.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum last week filed suit against several federal agencies, alleging officers are violating Oregonians’ civil rights.

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Portland fire commissioner bans all law enforcement agencies from using fire stations as staging area

Here’s more on Portland.
Since public demonstrations began after the death of George Floyd, Portland has been a hotbed of riots, violence and property damage.

As of earlier this month, business were reporting $23 million in damages.

Nightly riots have seen uncooperative crowds refusing to follow lawful dispersal orders from police, who have been repeatedly pelted with projectiles, including rocks, paint, ball bearings, and glass bottles.

City and state leaders, such as Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Governor Kate Brown, have seemingly favored the violent agitators rather than the police trying to keep law and order in the city.

Now, after federal officers have been sent in to quell the violence and destruction in the city, those very agents are facing a lawsuit.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has stepped into the mix by filing a lawsuit.

The suit includes as defendants: the DHS, US Customs and Border Protection, US Marshall Service, and the Federal Protective Service, and “John Does 1-10,” unidentified agents.

Calling the defendants’ actions a “public nuisance,” the suit claims:

“On information and belief, federal law enforcement officers including John Does 1-10 have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland, detain protesters, and place them into the officers’ unmarked vehicles, removing them from public without either arresting them or stating the basis for an arrest, since at least Tuesday, July 14.”

The suit alleges that persons detained would assume they are being kidnapped “by anonymous men in military-type fatigues,” and claims “injury” for those citizens who are unable to determine whether they are being kidnapped or arrested.

The suit makes mention of citizens “peacefully gathering,” with no mention of riotous activity, and claims:

“Defendants’ actions are undertaken with the intent of discouraging lawful protest and therefore constitute an illegal prior restraint on the First Amendment right of Oregonians to peacefully protest racial inequality.”

It goes on to say:

“Citizens who are reasonably afraid of being picked up and shoved into unmarked vans—possibly by federal officers, possibly by individuals opposed to the protests—will feel compelled to stay away, for their own personal safety, and will therefore be unable to express themselves in the way that they have the right to do.”

The suit also asserts violation of the Fourth Amendment, claiming officials “did not have a warrant to seize” individuals.  It also claimed that detainees were not afforded due process.

The suit calls for a restraining order to prevent further arrests.

It is ironic that Rosenblum refers to federal law enforcement officers as “anonymous”, which is a double standard because the instigators of violence are conveniently masked, which hides their identity and makes identifying suspects much more difficult.

Statements from officials contradict the implications and accusations that citizens are being pulled off the streets and whisked away without due process.

In response to complaints about a video showing two agents detaining a masked man dressed in black, Customs and Border Protection stated that they had detained the person as a suspect due to “assaults against federal agents or destruction of federal property.”

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolfe tweeted:

“Attempted arson is not a peaceful protest.

“Physically attacking law enforcement is not freedom of speech.

“Destruction of property is not peaceful assembly.

“Criminals perpetrating these crimes are being arrested… not law abiding protesters.”

Earlier last week, Governor Brown admitted that:

“A group of protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets with the intent to destroy property. This group has repeatedly lit fires, thrown rocks, bottles, fireworks and other objects and have put the safety of others at risk.”

Yet the governor followed up by calling for tying the hands of police, saying:

“Use of force, regardless of its legal justification, will do nothing to solve the underlying concerns of racial justice and police accountability raised by the protests.”  

Mayor Wheeler has responded similarly.  He conceded that protesters:

“…continue to hurt small businesses owned by people of color, instill fear in communities of color, and start fires in buildings with people inside, in one specific case, even bolting emergency doors so that they could not escape.”

However, he immediately deflected to “concerns about police actions related to demonstration activity,” and asked:

“Under what circumstances, if any, should tear gas be used? When, specifically, can a gathering be declared unlawful? Who should make those calls? These are all legitimate questions.”

PPB Union President Daryl Turner addressed such responses to the riots, saying:

“What angers me and the good people of Portland, even more, is that elected officials at the state and local levels are defending these criminal actions while in the same breath demonizing and vilifying the officers on the front lines protecting our communities, our safety, our livelihood, and our rights.”

With the city continuing to burn, President Trump sent federal law enforcement officers to Portland, with members from the DHS, the Border Patrol, and ICE.

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolfe explained the presence of these agents, saying,

“Instead of addressing violent criminals in their communities, local and state leaders are instead focusing on placing blame on law enforcement and requesting fewer officers in their community. This failed response has only emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day.”

He continued: 

“This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law. DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them. Again, I reiterate the Department’s offer to assist local and state leaders to bring an end to the violence perpetuated by anarchists.”  

Public outcry ensued, of course, with persons complaining that the agents were “kidnapping” citizens.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw in her two cents, calling the federal law enforcement personnel “stormtroopers” and claiming they were “kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti.”

Mayor Wheeler clearly was not pleased with the presence of the federal officers helping his violent city. 

He said:

“I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use. We do not need or want their help.

“The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether. Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely. And in the meantime, I asked him to clean up the graffiti on local federal facilities.”

 

All law enforcement is asking for is the opportunity to bring order to the chaos in a city ravaged by violence.

Says Wolfe:

“What we’ve seen across the country is… when they let law enforcement do their job, go in, address these violent anarchists or violent activities, it will have a measurable impact.”

Yet officials in Portland and the state of Oregon continue to ignore or dismiss the millions of dollars of damage, the acts of violence, the burnings, the lootings, the assaults on peace officers, and support rioters whom they refer to as peaceful protesters.

Now Attorney General Rosenblum has doubled down by seeking to tie the hands of law enforcement further and permit continued rioting, all in the name of the First Amendment.

If this train isn’t stopped, there is only one way this will end.  And it will not be good.

 

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